From the Big Screen:
(2022) A thoroughly cinematic drama, Elvis’s (Austin Butler) story is seen through the prism of his complicated relationship with his enigmatic manager, Colonel Tom Parker (Tom Hanks). As told by Parker, the film delves into the complex dynamic between the two spanning over 20 years, from Presley’s rise to fame to his unprecedented stardom, against the backdrop of the evolving cultural landscape and loss of innocence in America. Central to that journey is one of the significant and influential people in Elvis’s life, Priscilla Presley (Olivia DeJonge). Vitals: Director: Baz Luhrmann. Stars: Tom Hanks, Austin Butler, Olivia DeJonge, Dacre Montgomery, David Wenham, Kodi Smit-McPhee, Luke Bracey, Richard Roxburgh. 2022, CC, MPAA rating: PG-13, 159 min., Biodrama, North American box office gross: $136.457 million, worldwide $251.357 million, Warner. Formats: DVD, Blu-ray/DVD Combo + Digital Code, 4K Ultra HD/Blu-ray Combo + Digital Code, VOD, Digital. Extras: “Bigger Than Life: The Making of Elvis”; “Rock ‘N Roll Royalty: The Music & Artists Behind Elvis”; “Fit for a King; The Style of Elvis”; “Viva Australia: Recreating Iconic Locations for Elvis’; “Trouble” lyric video. Read more here
(2022) The definitive origin story of Buzz Lightyear, the hero who inspired the toy, follows the legendary Space Ranger after he’s marooned on a hostile planet 4.2 million light-years from Earth alongside his commander and their crew. As Buzz tries to find a way back home through space and time, he’s joined by a group of ambitious recruits and his charming robot companion cat, Sox. Complicating matters and threatening the mission is the arrival of Zurg, an imposing presence with an army of ruthless robots and a mysterious agenda. Vitals: Director: Angus MacLane. Stars: Chris Evans, Keke Palmer, Peter Sohn, Taika Waititi, Dale Soules, James Brolin, Uzo Aduba, Mary McDonald-Lewis, Isiah Whitlock Jr., Bill Hader, Efren Ramirez. 2021, CC, MPAA rating: PG, 100 min., Animated Action Family, North American box office gross: $117.861 million, worldwide $219.826 million, Disney. Formats: DVD, Blu-ray/DVD Combo + Digital Code, 4K Ultra HD/Blu-ray Combo + Digital Code, VOD, Digital. Extras: Deleted scenes, featurettes, commentary. Read more here
Where the Crawdads Sing
(2022) From the best-selling novel comes a captivating mystery. Where the Crawdads Sing tells the story of Kya, an abandoned girl who raised herself to adulthood in the dangerous marshlands of North Carolina. For years, rumors of the “Marsh Girl” haunted Barkley Cove, isolating the sharp and resilient Kya from her community. Drawn to two young men from town, Kya opens herself to a new and startling world; but when one of them is found dead, she is immediately cast by the community as the main suspect. As the case unfolds, the verdict as to what actually happened becomes increasingly unclear, threatening to reveal the many secrets that lie within the marsh. Vitals: Director: Olivia Newman. Stars: Daisy Edgar-Jones, Taylor John-Smith, Harris Dickinson, Michael Hyatt, Sterling Macer Jr., David Strathairn. 2021, CC, MPAA rating: PG-13, 125 min., Mystery Suspense, North American box office gross: $81.863 million, worldwide $106.563 million, Sony. Formats: DVD, Blu-ray/DVD Combo + Digital Code, VOD, Digital. Extras: “Adapting a Phenomenon” featurette, “Creating the World” featurette, “Women in Focus” featurette, deleted and extended scenes, lyric video: “Carolina” by Taylor Swift. Read more here
This Week’s Best Bets:
The American dream has rarely seemed so far away as in the raw, vérité “Take Out” (2004), by Sean Baker and Shih-Ching Tsou, an immersion in the life of an undocumented Chinese immigrant struggling to get by on the margins of post-9/11 New York City. Facing violent retaliation from a loan shark, restaurant deliveryman Ming Ding (Charles Jang) has until nightfall to pay back the money he owes, and he encounters both crushing setbacks and moments of unexpected humanity as he races against time to earn enough in tips over the course of a frantic day. From this simple setup, Baker and Tsou fashion a kind of neorealist survival thriller of the everyday, shedding compassionate light on the too often overlooked lives and labor that keep New York running. In a Blu-ray debut, with new 4K digital restoration, supervised and approved by directors Sean Baker and Shih-Ching Tsou, with uncompressed stereo soundtrack. From The Criterion Collection. Read more here … Ralph Bakshi’s hybrid animated/live-action dark comedy “Cool World” (1992) creates a fantasy world where human characters and animated roles coexist and showcases Bakshi’s unique and creative animation style. When ex-con cartoonist Jack Deebs (Gabriel Byrne) was behind bars, he found escape by creating “Cool World,” a cartoon series featuring a voluptuous vixen named Holli Would (Kim Basinger). But the ‘toonsmith becomes a prisoner of his own fantasies when Holli pulls him into Cool World with a scheme to seduce him and bring herself to life. A hard-boiled detective (Brad Pitt) – the only other human in Cool World – cautions Jack with the law: Noids (humans) don’t have sex with doodles (cartoons). The flesh proves weaker than ink, however, as Holli takes human form in Las Vegas, starting a trans-reality chase that threatens the destruction of both worlds. A splashy mix of stylish animation and colorful live-action sequences. In a Collector’s Edition Blu-ray debut from Shout! Factory … “Massacre at Central High” (1976), the startling U.S. debut of Dutch writer-director Rene Daalder, is a thriller about a high school transfer student who resorts to murder after being pushed too far by a trio of bullies. When it appears he has freed his fellow classmates from the rule of violent oppressors, the newfound power becomes too much and soon the bullied become the bullies. For years, “Massacre at Central High” more or less slipped under the radar. With the exception of Robert Carradine, the cast consisted of actors you might recognize but not know by name (Andrew Stevens, Derrel Maury, Kimberly Beck, Rainbeaux Smith). That, coupled with a title that suggests it might be your run-of-the-mill slasher rather than a smart commentary on the power and influence of violence, has resulted in an under-appreciated gem. Not everyone overlooked the film, however. In an early 1980s episode of Sneak Previews, famed critic Roger Ebert listed “Massacre at Central High” as one of his guilty pleasures, praising it as “an intelligent and uncompromising allegory about the psychology of violence.” Ebert further elaborated on how the “well-crafted” film does an excellent job showcasing how the “student body is a breeding ground for fascism.” Nearly 50 years later, those themes present in the film are as relevant as ever. High-definition 1080p remaster scanned, transferred and supervised by Daalder. On Blu-ray from Synapse Films.
Buzzin’ the ‘B’s:
In “The Alternate” (2021), starring Ed Gonzalez Moreno, Natalia Dominguez and Syra McCarthy, a videographer discovers a portal to another dimension in which he has everything he has always wanted: the perfect version of his wife, the career of his dreams, and the daughter he never had. He starts traveling back and forth between these two worlds but soon sees that his alternate is not as perfect as he seems, and perfection comes with a price. From Uncork’d Entertainment. Read more here … “Surrender pronto, or … we’ll level Toronto!” Academy Award-winning writer-director Michael Moore (“Fahrenheit 9/11”) serves up a delightfully ludicrous political send-up brimming with madcap hilarity and side-splitting slapstick in “Canadian Bacon” (1995), starring the great and much-missed John Candy, Rhea Perlman, Alan Alda, Kevin Pollak, Rip Torn and Steven Wright. Faced with sagging approval ratings and disgruntled arms manufacturers, the U.S. President (Alda) decides to cook up a new Cold War with Canada. And after a flood of media propaganda, Americans waste no time in “patriotically” burning their ice skates and swearing off maple syrup. But when bumbling U.S. sheriff Boomer (Candy) and his hair-trigger deputy Honey (Perlman) decide to take matters into their own hands and lead a preemptive strike, they soon find themselves embroiled in a hilarious international incident that’s too close for comfort, eh! On Blu-ray from MVD Marquee Collection … “Sniper: The White Raven” (2022 — Ukraine), starring Pavlo Aldoshyn, Maryna Koshkina, Andriy Mostrenko, Roman Semysal and Oleg Drach, is based on a true story. After suffering a senseless tragedy at the hand of invading Russian soldiers in the Donbas region in 2014, a former Ukrainian physics teacher renounces his peaceful way of life and seeks revenge. Upon joining the military and earning a coveted spot as a sniper, he sets his sights on an elite Russian sniper whose elimination could change the tide of the conflict. On DVD, Blu-ray, from Well Go USA.
“Checkered Ninja” (2018 — Denmark) is an animated adventure about a possessed Ninja doll that teams up with a teen to avenge the murder of a poor child factory worker. When 13-year old Alex (Cameron Simpson) gets a Ninja doll from his Uncle Stewart (Michael Glenn Murphy) after a trip to Thailand, he finds out that the doll is alive and can help him with problems at school. Alex wants to return the favor, but soon Alex learns that the “Checkered Ninja” (Luke Griffin) is possessed and on a mission to have his revenge. From Synergetic Distribution … In “Evil Dead Trap 2: Hideki” (1992 — Japan), starring Shoko Nakajima, Rie Kondoh, and Shirô Sano, a killer is on the loose in Japan; young women are being horribly mutilated. Aki, a young woman who works as a film projectionist, is haunted by a childlike ghost. Her girlfriend Emi is a TV news reporter covering the horrible mutilations. Emi introduces Aki to Kurahashi, a married man with a haunted past. Everyone involved has a dark secret and something evil is taking control of them. They are pawns in a game being played by forces beyond their understanding. On DVD, Blu-ray, from Unearthed Films.
From TV to Disc:
“Flowers in the Attic: The Origin” (2022) is a two-disc set with all four episodes of the Lifetime limited series. Based on the prequel novel “Garden of Shadows” by Andrew Neiderman, this chronicles the harrowing backstory of Olivia Winfield (Jemima Rooper) as she is wooed by the debonair Malcolm Foxworth (Max Irons). After a whirlwind romance, Olivia discovers the twisted truths lurking inside Foxworth Hall, and the fairytale life she expected becomes a nightmare — one that leads to her notorious decision to lock her grandchildren in the attic. Featuring a cast that includes Kelsey Grammer, Harry Hamlin, Kate Mulgrew, Paul Wesley, Alana Boden, Hannah Dodd, T’Shan Williams, and Callum Kerr.From Lionsgate … “Lucifer: The Sixth & Final Season” (2021) is a three-disc set with all 10 episodes. In the sixth and final season of Lucifer, we close the chapter on our crime-solving Devil. With Los Angeles no longer the battleground for his angelic siblings, Lucifer’s relationship with Chloe has never been stronger. Life is good. But if we know anything about this fallen angel, it’s that his past always finds a way of catching up to him. On DVD, Blu-ray, from Warner … “Magnum P.I.: Season Four” (2021-22) is a five-disc set with 20 episodes. a modern take on the classic series centering on Thomas Magnum, a decorated former Navy SEAL who, upon returning home from Afghanistan, repurposes his military skills to become a private investigator. A charming rogue, an American hero and a die-hard Detroit Tigers fan, Magnum lives in a guest cottage on Robin’s Nest, the luxurious estate where he works as a security consultant to supplement his P.I. business. The “majordomo” of the property is Juliet Higgins, a beautiful and commanding disavowed MI:6 agent whose second job is to keep Magnum in line, with the help of her two Dobermans. From CBS/Paramount … “Seal Team: Season Five” (2021-22) is a four-disc set with all 14 episodes of the military drama that follows the professional and personal lives of the most elite unit of Navy SEALs as they train, plan and execute the most dangerous, high stakes missions our country can ask of them. Deployed on clandestine missions worldwide at a moment’s notice and knowing the toll it takes on them and their families, this tight-knit SEAL team displays unwavering patriotism and fearless dedication even in the face of overwhelming odds. From CBS/Paramount … “The White Lotus: The Complete First Season” (2021) is a two-disc set with all six episodes of the HBO series. A social satire set at an exclusive tropical resort, this series follows the exploits of various guests and employees over the span of one week. Checking into the luxurious White Lotus are a group of vacationers who run roughshod over the resort manager and head of spa services. As darker dynamics emerge with each passing day, this biting six-episode series gradually reveals the complex truths of the seemingly picture-perfect travelers, cheerful hotel employees, and idyllic locale itself. From Warner.
All DVDs and Blu-rays are screened on a reference system consisting of an Oppo BDP-83 Blu-ray Disc Player w/SACD & DVD-Audio, a Rotel RSX-972 Surround Sound Receiver, and Phase Technology 1.1 (front), 33.1 (center), and 50 (rear) speakers, and Power 10 subwoofer.